With a projected starting time of around March 2013, the New Jersey Department of Transportation presented its continued plans for short-term improvements on Route 22 Wednesday, including the decision to close the U-turns in the median of the highway.
According to a release from the state about the program, NJDOT has found several locations with high accident rates, namely Route 22 between North Bridge Street and Grove Street; the intersection of Grove Street and the North Grove Street overpass; and at the U-turns.
According to Thomas Dancsecs, with Burchart Horn Inc.—the design consultant hired by the state—the newest aspect of the plan is to create a deceleration lane from Route 22 West onto Interstate 287.
"And there is some new sign structure from Bound Brook down Route 22 West," he said. "They are guide signs to alert motorists. They really say what the lanes are, and where they are going."
Although there were very few people in attendance at the open forum concerning the short term improvements, Dancsecs said a few business owners stopped by with questions about how the improvements might affect them.
For example, Dancsecs said, someone with the Bridgewater Diner expressed concerns that without the u-turns on the highway, people might use his parking lot to make a turn.
Still, the state is moving forward with that change as well, which will be done at the end of the project, probably in spring 2014.
"It has to be done in certain sequences," Dancsecs said. "The u-turns are being closed last to prevent this traffic nightmare."
"We are turning these u-turns from pavement to grass," he added.
Bridgewater Township Assistant Engineer Tom Forsythe, who attended the public session, said the township's main focus has been on closing those u-turns.
"They have been dangerous for a while," he said. "We have been pushing to get them done for years."
"The u-turns are responsible for so many accidents, rear end and side to side," he added.
While the project is continuing, Dancsecs said, there will be some detours, particularly when work is done at North Bridge and Grove streets to construct ramps leading on and off them.
"Those detours will be signed," he said. "They will be for short portions of time while we are doing the paving."
Dancsecs said Green Constructing has been tapped to do the projects, and these short term improvements will cost about $7.88 million.
As for the long term improvements, the state is currently in the process of reviewing the concept development report, but there is no timeline for that work at this point. The design work itself will take about four years, and the cost is expected to be between $50 and $100 million.
Everything in the project, except the u-turns, is expected to be completed by the end of 2013, with the u-turns expected to be done in 2014.
These are the proposed projects in the short-term improvements:
- Reconstruct Route 22 East shoulder as an auxiliary lane for the Route 202/206 on-ramp.
- Change the Mountain Avenue intersection into stop control.
- Add another exit onto Route 22 West from Buffalo Wild Wings.
- Widen and reconstruct the Route 22 East shoulder as an auxiliary lane from North Bridge Street, past Grove Street.
- Widen the shoulder along Route 22 in the median from North Bridge Street to North Grove Street.
- Reconfigure the intersection of the North Grove Street overpass and Grove Street.
- Eliminate the u-turns in the median at North Gaston Avenue and Adamsville Road.
- Construct a new traffic signal at the intersection of Foothill and Ronson roads, with a left turn lane.
- Install new overhead signs for "Exit Only" lanes on Roue 22 West to Ronson Road.
- Install a new deceleration lane on Route 22 West for the Route 287 southbound ramp.
- Make improvements to the highway lighting.
- Install a new Intelligent Transportation System along the Route 22 corridor.